chapter  2
50 Pages

Britain in the early eighteenth century

In 1749 the philosopher Montesquieu made the distinction in his The Spirit of the Laws between the internal (social and psychological) and external (physical or environmental) aspects of human life suggesting that the link between them was to be found in legal structures which institutionalized a society's relationship with its environment.1 He explained that different physical environments gave rise to different needs which in turn produced different modes of life. This chapter is concerned with outlining the contrasting experiences that existed in the early eighteenth century in the four parts which made up the British Isles.